What is Stakeholder Analysis and How Product Teams Should Do It?

What is Stakeholder Analysis and How Product Teams Should Do It

Design projects often come with many stakeholders, each with different interests, priorities, and goals. A stakeholder analysis can help you understand each individual and their potential impact on UX and the project.

Why is understanding stakeholders important?

Not everyone understands the workflows, challenges, and complexities of user experience. UX leaders and professionals must get buy-in from stakeholders for their vision and major design decisions. When you understand the key stakeholders, you can ensure your vision aligns with their expectations.

Even though this article looks at a stakeholder analysis through the UX lens, you can apply these strategies and principles to any business or project.

Designers often have to present ideas and concepts at every stage of the design process. UXPin is an end-to-end design tool that allows UX teams to share concepts and ideas and get feedback from stakeholders using Comments. See how effective collaboration can enhance design projects. Sign up for a free trial.

What is Stakeholder Analysis?

A stakeholder analysis is a process of identifying the people who have a vested interest or power to influence a project. The goal is to identify each individual to assess:

  • Each stakeholder’s role and authority.
  • Their level of influence.
  • Their priorities and expectations.
  • What about the project matters most to them.
  • How each stakeholder might influence the project and UX matters.

Understanding each stakeholder will also help you engage and communicate with them better, thus ensuring smoother collaboration.

What is the Purpose of Stakeholder Analysis?

Projects often have many stakeholders, each with their own opinions and agendas. Some of these people have authority over you and the project, while others don’t – but they might attempt to influence your department or decisions.

You also need to understand stakeholder relationships. Someone might not have influence over you, or the project, but they work closely with someone who does. Understanding these relationships and dynamics can help you strategize accordingly.

For example, a finance stakeholder might not directly influence a project’s direction, but your C-level stakeholders listen to their advice for business purposes.

Lastly, a stakeholder analysis will allow you to know what information matters most to each individual and prioritize your feedback – essentially you want to speak the same language. For example, a design lead is most interested in design-related matters rather than a lengthy breakdown of budgets and expenses.

Benefits of a Stakeholder Analysis

  • It puts the project management hierarchy into perspective.
  • Identifies stakeholders needs and interests.
  • Reduces the risk of conflict and misunderstandings.
  • Allows you to understand how to influence stakeholders.
  • Recognizes who could potentially cause problems for the project.
  • Segments different types of stakeholders into categories for feedback and reporting (a communication plan.)

How Often Should You Conduct a Stakeholder Analysis?

A stakeholder analysis is a working document that you start at the beginning of every project and update periodically. People tend to move in and out of the company and projects, which means you’ll have to analyze newcomers and re-analyze others.

It’s beneficial to keep track of people’s movements and update your stakeholder analysis as soon as you hear of any changes. You may also consider setting periodic assessments of your analysis to check that your information is still relevant and up to date.

How to do Stakeholder Analysis

Step 1: Identify Stakeholders

The first step is to identify the project’s potential stakeholders. Use a spreadsheet to list each person and consider adding the following columns:

  • Full name
  • Their position in the organization
  • Their role on the product or project
  • Email
  • Contact number
  • Their requirements or expectations relating to the project
  • Their requirements or expectations relating to your work
  • What impact or influence do they have over the project
  • Categorization (based on mapping in step two)

It’s crucial that you complete all of these fields (except categorization) before moving to step two. Completing this first step will determine how you conduct the rest of the stakeholder analysis.

Step 2: Stakeholder Mapping

Categorizing stakeholders is another critical part of a stakeholder analysis. Categorization will identify the key players and stakeholder interests. 

There are two popular methods for categorizing or mapping stakeholders:

  • Power-interest matrix
  • Salience model

Power-Interest Matrix

A power-interest matrix is the most common stakeholder mapping methodology. Using four quadrants with power on one axis and interest on the other allows you to map stakeholders into a power-interest grid of four quadrants (categories) of importance:

  1. Manage closely (top right)–high interest, high power: These important stakeholders have high authority and are highly vested in the project. You should engage with these people, listen to what they have to say, and make every effort to satisfy their needs and requests.
  2. Keep satisfied (top left)–high influence, low interest: These stakeholders aren’t directly interested in the project but have the authority to influence decisions and outcomes. They’ll usually only get involved in the project if it impacts their work. Your job is to keep these people happy with periodic updates and ensure your project doesn’t infringe on their other work and initiatives.
  3. Keep informed (bottom right)–high interest, low power: These stakeholders might not have much power over decisions and directions, but they’re interested in the project and its outcome. Make sure you copy these stakeholders on important correspondence, invite them to design debriefs, and share finished design elements like mockups and prototypes for feedback.
  4. Monitor (bottom left)–low interest, low power: These stakeholders have little interest and power in your project, so it’s not worth spending too much time engaging with these people. Circumstances could change, and they could move into another quadrant, so it’s essential to monitor these stakeholders.

Salience Model

The salience model is a Venn diagram with three dimensions and eight categories. The four overlapping categories of the Venn diagram are the stakeholders you need to pay most attention to–like the top two quadrants of the power-interest matrix.

The three dimensions of the Venn diagram include:

  1. Legitimacy: The stakeholder’s appropriate involvement in the project
  2. Power: Works similar to the power-interest matrix in assigning a level of authority
  3. Urgency: How quickly you should respond to this stakeholder’s needs and requests

These three dimensions come together to create eight categories of importance:

  1. Discretionary stakeholders: These stakeholders have legitimate claims, but they don’t have much power or urgency.
  2. Dormant stakeholders: These stakeholders have a lot of power but little legitimacy or urgency. Similar to the people in quadrant two of the power-interest matrix.
  3. Demanding stakeholders: These stakeholders tend to make a lot of demands (urgency) but don’t have much power or legitimacy.
  4. Dominant stakeholders: These stakeholders have high power and legitimacy but mostly little urgency. They’ll usually let you know when something is important to them, in which case you must prioritize their request as urgent.
  5. Dangerous stakeholders: These stakeholders have power and urgency, but they have low legitimacy over the project.
  6. Dependent stakeholders: These stakeholders have high urgency and legitimacy but little power in the project.
  7. Definitive stakeholders: These stakeholders sit in the middle of the Venn diagram with the highest levels of legitimacy, power, and urgency-similar to the “manage-closely” stakeholders in the power-interest matrix. You should engage with these people, listen to what they have to say, and make every effort to satisfy their needs and requests.
  8. Non-stakeholders: These non-stakeholders sit outside of the Venn diagram. They have no legitimacy, power, or urgency but might be interested in the project’s outcome.

Step 3: Prioritize Stakeholders

Once you have completed step two, you can prioritize each stakeholder and assign them a categorization (as per step one). Your prioritization will vary depending on which stakeholder mapping method you use in step two.

You might also create three stakeholder groups:

  • Key stakeholders: Individuals with the most power and influence
  • Primary stakeholders: The individuals most affected by the project or stand to benefit directly
  • Secondary stakeholders: People who are indirectly affected by the project–like customers or minority shareholders

Step 4: Interview Stakeholders to Learn Their Needs and Attitude

Next, according to step three, you want to interview each stakeholder in order of their importance. Touching base with stakeholders in a face-to-face meeting or video call is an opportunity to hear individuals articulate their needs and expectations. You also want to understand how, what, and when they want feedback and reports.

Step 5: Organize and Share Your Data

Once you complete your stakeholder analysis, you’ll want to put this data into a spreadsheet or document to share with your team. Recording and sharing your stakeholder analysis with the team ensures a coherent and consistent communication strategy.

It also helps if a team member needs to take the reins when you’re absent or leave the project/organization.

Improving Stakeholder Engagement With UXPin

One of the most effective ways to get stakeholder buy-in and meaningful feedback during the design process is by sharing high-fidelity mockups and prototypes.

Traditional image-based design tools often confuse stakeholders because they can’t interact with certain features, use forms, or complete user flows. With UXPin’s code-based design tool, designers can build fully functioning prototypes that look and work like the final product.

Stakeholders can access a UXPin prototype to view in their own time, and a comment feature allows designers and stakeholders to give and share feedback.

PayPal notes how design teams get “higher quality feedback from stakeholders” since switching to UXPin.

“Our stakeholders are able to provide feedback pretty quickly using UXPin. We can send them a link to play with the prototype in their own time and UXPin allows them to provide comments directly on the prototypes. UXPin’s comments functionality is great because we can follow along and mark comments as resolved once we address them.” Erica Rider, Senior Manager for UX – Developer tools and platform experience at PayPal.

UXPin’s high-fidelity prototypes don’t only influence stakeholders! The code-based prototypes also result in better testing and meaningful feedback from usability participants.

Why not try UXPin for yourself! Sign up for a free trial to explore UXPin’s powerful design and prototyping features to enhance your digital product’s customer experience.

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